An ambitious effort, but one that lacks verisimilitude.



In Andersen’s (Other Me, 2018) novel, an international best-selling author risks the ruination of his career when his past resurfaces.

Logan Bendt has a secret. When he walks across the stage to receive his diploma at Waterston College’s graduation ceremony, he’s going to reveal to the world that he’s actually the much older, reclusive best-selling author Roberts Bree, who’s scheduled to give the commencement speech. He’s also secretly in love with his favorite professor, Dr. Alyssa Kennedy. After the truth comes out, he and Alyssa act on their feelings for each other—but then his former flame, Yvette Mélisande, resurfaces, claiming he abandoned a child he didn’t know he had. Logan is certain that little Mathieu isn’t his, and he realizes that he has to find a way to prove it. If he can’t, it could cause a scandal that could tarnish his career and reputation, and possibly cause the publication of his latest novel to be canceled. In a matter of days, he must track down Mathieu’s real father and win back Alyssa’s heart. However, the odds seem stacked against him, as Alyssa is heartbroken over the revelation and Yvette is determined to keep up the farce—but he might find some help from some friends in low places. This novel’s initial premise, involving Logan’s secret-identity ruse, is intriguing. However, the ensuing scandal over Logan’s past affair requires too much suspension of disbelief on the part of readers. The fact that the protagonist has an ex-lover in France—and the fact that she’s making an accusation that could easily be cleared up with a paternity test—aren’t believably career-ruining stakes, despite what the characters say. Logan and Alyssa’s relationship is also put on hold for the majority of the novel; indeed, another couple receives a more satisfying denouement than the main characters do.

An ambitious effort, but one that lacks verisimilitude.

Pub Date: July 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-983331-25-1

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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